Have you heard of magic cake? It’s a sweet sensation that’s been generating quite the buzz, for a couple of great reasons. It’s light and lovely (my favourite kind of dessert, so it can be enjoyed even after a big meal) and super easy to prepare. The magic part: as it bakes, the batter separates into three distinct layers. There’s a fluffy cake layer on top (almost like angel food cake), then a custard layer in the middle and a denser layer on the bottom. It’s like three delicious desserts in one! In the unlikely event your cake doesn’t get completely devoured right away, you can store leftovers in the fridge for up to 2 days, or freeze for up to a month. I love this orange-cardamom version, inspired by the flavours of India, but you can substitute freshly squeezed lemon juice for the orange to make a lemon-cardamom version, or omit the cardamom and use 1/4 cup strong coffee (at room temperature) for another delicious variation.
Preheat oven to 325F. Line an 8 inch x 8 inch baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.
Separate eggs carefully. Put the whites in a medium sized bowl and beat with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
In a large bowl, vigorously whisk the egg yolks with the sugar and cardamom until the mixture is fluffy and light in colour. Add melted butter and continue whisking until well incorporated. Add flour and whisk until a smooth batter forms.
Add the orange juice and whisk to combine, then add the milk slowly, whisking constantly, until the mixture is well blended.
Add the egg whites to the egg yolk mixture, a third at a time. Gently combine them into the batter with a whisk, repeating each time you add more of the whipped whites. Do not overmix – you want to see blobs of egg whites in the mixture. Note that the batter will be quite a bit runnier than most conventional cake recipes - this is part of what makes it magic!
Pour batter into prepared baking pan and bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until the top is lightly golden and the cake is firm to the touch around the edges but still slightly jiggly in the middle. Depending on how true to temperature your oven is, the baking time may vary so start checking the cake at the 45 minute mark.
When cake is baked, remove pan to a wire rack and let cool completely. Cut into squares and dust with icing sugar to serve.
Makes 9 portions.